Pair of late picks seals victory for Bucs Bucs knock off Austin Peay at home, 20-14

Published 1:05 am Tuesday, September 24, 2019


JOHNSON CITY – A stout second-half defensive effort willed the Bucs to the 20-14 victory over Austin Peay in front of a raucous crowd at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium on Saturday night.

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In front of the second-largest crowd in Greene Stadium history (9,350), the Bucs’ defense recorded back-to-back interceptions on the final two drives of Austin Peay to seal the win.

The defense held Austin Peay to just 79 yards of offense in the second half, including just six total yards in the third quarter.

The Governors struck first with a 54-yard touchdown pass from JaVaugh Craig to DeAngelo Wilson for the 7-0 advantage.

The Bucs retaliated with 10 unanswered points beginning with Tyler Keltner’s (Tallahassee, Fla.) career-high 48-yard field goal to get ETSU on board. The Blue & Gold then took their first lead of the game as Malik McGue (Johnson City) punched in his first rushing touchdown in a Bucs uniform, second of his career, to put ETSU ahead 10-7.

However, the Governors marched down the field to put seven on the board prior to halftime with a Kente Williams 1-yard touchdown run that capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive to put Austin Peay ahead 14-10.

For the second time during the game, the Bucs went on a 10-0 run to take yet another lead. This time the spurt started in the fourth quarter with a Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.) 2-yard touchdown run with 6:58 left on the clock, his first of the season. Holmes’ rush concluded a 12-play, 85-yard drive.

Keltner concluded the scoring with a 37-yard field goal to push the ETSU lead to 20-14 with 1:38 remaining in the game. 

Sandwiched around Keltner’s field goal were interceptions by MJ Woods (Seale, Ala.) and Artevius Smith (Birmingham, Ala.) on back-to-back Austin Peay drives, the first two interceptions of the season for the Buccaneer’s defense.

Upon review of Smith’s pick, the call was overturned from incomplete to an interception, allowing the Bucs to line up in victory formation for the triumph.


First Quarter

  • APSU 7, ETSU 0: The Governors began the game with a 5-play, 90-yard drive, capped off with a 54-yard touchdown pass from JaVaughn Craig to DeAngelo Wilson for the early 7-0 advantage.
  • APSU 7, ETSU 3: The Bucs retaliated with a scoring drive of their own that started on their own 25-yard line. ETSU used a 9-play, 43-yard drive to jump on the board as Keltner connected on a career-long 48-yard field goal.

Second Quarter

  • ETSU 10, APSU 7: The Bucs flipped the script on the Govs, busting out for a 12-play, 73-yard drive that lasted 6:01. The drive was highlighted by a Trey Mitchell 21-yard rush and a Mitchell 21-yard pass to fellow quarterback Cameron Lewis. Malik McGue capped off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, his first as a Buccaneer and second of his career.
  • APSU 14, ETSU 10: The Govs would not go away quietly, eating up 3:21 on the clock for a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of their own with just 14 seconds left in the half. Kente Williams rushed for 31 yards on the drive, including a 1-yard touchdown punch.

Fourth quarter

  • ETSU 17, APSU 14: The Bucs took the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter as Quay Holmes punched in his first touchdown of the season, a 2-yard sprint across the goal line. Holmes’ rush capped off a lengthy drive of 85 yards in which he rushed for 37 yards total during the stretch.
  • ETSU 20, APSU 14: Following an ETSU interception, the Bucs drove down the field methodically, chewing the clock to set up another Keltner field goal. The Bucs chewed 2:14 off the clock in seven plays, setting up for Keltner’s 37-yard field goal to extend the lead to six.  


  • Despite being outgained by 35 yards (359-324), the Buccaneers came up with two key turnovers on Austin Peay’s final two drives to solidify the win … ETSU’s offense was balanced as they totaled 174 yards through the air and 150 yards on the ground, marking the first time Austin Peay allowed over 100 rushing yards this season.
  • The last time the Governors allowed a team to run for over 100 yards was on Nov. 10, 2018, when Eastern Illinois totaled 216 yards on the ground.
  • After surrendering 280 yards of offense in the first half, ETSU’s defense held the Governors to 79 yards in the second half, including six yards in the third quarter … Austin Peay’s 14 points marked a season-low and were its lowest output since being held to 13 points versus Eastern Kentucky back on Nov. 3, 2018 … The Governors 126 rushing yards were also a season-low and fewest since rushing for 92 yards in last year’s season-opener at Georgia.
  • The Bucs totaled 218 yards on its three scoring drives (40 plays) while being held to 106 yards on its 32 other plays on the night.
  • Saturday marked the first meeting between the two programs since Nov. 18, 1978, when Austin Peay won 14-7 in Johnson City … ETSU now leads the all-time series 15-12-2.
  • ETSU improved to 4-0 when wearing the all-gold uniforms.
  • MJ Woods’ interception in the fourth quarter was the first by the Bucs this season… The interception was the second of Woods’ career and it came when Austin Peay was driving with 3:52 remaining in the game… Woods intercepted the pass at ETSU’s 26-yard line and returned it 39 yards to APSU’s 35-yard line. 
  • Blake Bockrath (Loveland, Ohio) and Trey Middleton (Marietta, Ga.) combined for a third-down sack on Austin Peay’s first drive of the third quarter, marking the first time this season the Governors allowed a sack … Jared Folks (Harrisburg, Pa.), who made his season debut, registered the Bucs’ second sack on the night.
  • In the first quarter, Austin Peay ran 23 plays for 175 yards (7.6 yards per play), compared to the Bucs running 14 plays for 58 yards (4.1 yards per play).
  • After taking its first possession 90 yards on five plays to score on a 54-yard pass play, Austin Peay missed a 44-yard field goal on its second possession and turned the ball over on downs on their third possession of the quarter
  • In the first half, Austin Peay totaled 280 yards (41 plays), compared to ETSU’s registering 165 yards (34 plays) … The Governors scored on their first drive of the game and their final drive of the first half – accumulating 165 total yards on those two drives.  
  • After being held to 53 yards on 21 plays following Malik McGue’s second-quarter touchdown, ETSU then posted a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive, capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Quay Holmes to give ETSU a 17-14 lead with 6:58 remaining in the game (Holmes’ first touchdown of the season) … Holmes had 37 of the 85 yards on the scoring drive.
  • Artevius Smith, who posted the final interception on Austin Peay’s final drive of the game, led the Blue and Gold with nine tackles, while Bockrath added seven hits and a tackle for loss.
  • Jacob Saylors (Jasper, Tenn.) totaled a career-high seven receptions … Saylors and Holmes each recorded 114 all-purpose yards. 
  • Freshman kicker Tyler Keltner was 2-of-2 in field goal attempts, including a career-high 48-yard make on ETSU’s opening drive.
  • After going 1-of-12 on third down last week, the Bucs went 7-of-17 on third-down chances.


ETSU will return to action next weekend when the Bucs travel to Greenville, S.C. for a Southern Conference showdown with Furman. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.